BODEGA COOLER model D31A drawer fridge review – compact yet cavernous car-based cooler

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REVIEW – I’ve reviewed a smattering of different portable coolers with a variety of sizes and capacities, but this marks the first “drawer style” car cooler I’ve gotten my hands on so far. Why would you want a drawer style cooler, you might ask? Drawer style coolers are popular for RV and custom camping vans, because they can be built into an enclosure with other drawers, tools, or equipment. A classic chest cooler takes up space and can’t be built into cabinets or racks, but the drawer cooler allows for a wide range of installation options. You could even build this into a cabinet in a home/tiny-home/cabin/etc.  BODEGA COOLER sent over their model D31A drawer fridge for us to check out, and check it out I did!

What is it?

The BODEGA COOLER model D31A drawer fridge is a 31 liter drawer refrigerator. It can run on either AC or DC power (car lighter port or other DC power input options), and only uses 35 watts while running in eco mode, making it a great option for long camping or overland adventures, especially when paired with a portable power station.

What’s in the box?

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  • BODEGA COOLER model D31A drawer fridge
  • AC power supply
  • DC car power cord
  • L brackets and mounting screws
  • Manual

Hardware specs

Click to view
  • Capacity: 31 Liters
  • Size: 17.32 x 28.82 x 9.84 inches
  • Weight: 43 pounds
  • Temp range: -4°F-68°F
  • Power input: AC 120/240V, DC 12/24V
  • Power usage: 35-45 watts when running
  • Battery protection: 3 levels
  • Can capacity: 32 cola cans (12 or 20 oz) – or up to 42 skinny cans
  • Warranty: 5 year warranty on the compressor, 1 year on all other parts

Design and features

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The front of the BODEGA COOLER model D31A drawer fridge is roughly 18 inches wide and 10 inches tall. A couple of buttons at the top left control temperature and mode settings, and a locking handle prevents the drawer from sliding out if installed in moving vehicles.

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The top down view (above) shows the basic footprint, the fridge is deeper than it is wide (~28″ deep), with the compressor unit sitting at the very back. I like that they left space around it so you don’t have to have gaps to allow for airflow (though that rear area should be ventilated wherever you install it).

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Side view, note the silver mounting points

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The screen is an LCD screen, with push bubble buttons (I’m pretty sure that’s the technical term). There is battery protection turned on by default with different levels – so if you connect this directly to a car outlet, it shouldn’t fully drain the car battery.

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The locking handle works well, and feels like it will last, no flimsy point of failure here as far as I can tell. This handle “locks” in the sense that the drawer won’t slide open unless you’re pulling it out as shown above.

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When you slide out the drawer, you’re presented with a generous cooling compartment, with wire dividers installed that can simply be lifted out if you need to put larger items inside.

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12 and 20 ounce cans fit upright, and you can fit up to 33 of either (or even more if you have the skinnier cans). The whole unit feels solid, with no complaints about the drawer sliding mechanism, door seals, or overall build. The limited height does mean that full turkeys or two-layer cakes might be hard to fit inside the fridge, but most other things will work great.

Setup

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I enlisted my brother-in-law to help with this review, as he’s been wanting to customize his new Toyota 4Runner with camping gear. He built a custom frame and mounted the refrigerator using the supplied L-brackets. Besides that, setup is as simple as plugging in either the AC or DC power cord. You can use the cooler without mounting it as well, it works just fine on a flat surface.

Performance

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The BODEGA COOLER model D31A drawer fridge is the perfect size and capacity for my brother in law, he’s planning on a gear drawer above the cooler and has the cooler connected to a portable power station in the back of his car. He ran it for weeks during the review period and didn’t even drain half the 1000 Wh power station battery – the cooler only pulls 35 watts in Eco mode with the compressor running. However, we were testing this in winter in the Rocky Mountains, with outdoor temps hovering just above freezing most of the time, so it wasn’t working hard to keep cool.

We’re excited to fill this with beverages and food for spring/summer camping trips in Southern Utah, it seems like it will be the perfect cooler for our adventures. I’ll update the review if anything unexpected happens with it in the coming months!

What I like

  • Size and shape is great for custom installations and easy front access
  • Simple controls on the unit for temperature and mode
  • Feels solid and built to last – and the 5 year compressor warranty is especially nice if you’re building this into something
  • Can run as a freezer or a refrigerator with sub-zero temperature settings

What I’d change

  • The whole unit is pretty long, make sure to measure and compare dimensions before ordering, we only had a few inches of clearance left after installation in a rack
  • Mobile app is bluetooth only so it only lets you change settings from a few feet away.

Final thoughts

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The BODEGA COOLER model D31A drawer fridge is absolutely perfect for my brother-in-law’s use-case. With a large traditional design cooler he used to have a harder time accessing the food/drink, but the D31A now gives fast and super easy access out of the back of his car. The mounting points made it easy to install in a semi-permanent rack system, and you could also build it into cabinetry or a variety of other setups.

Price: $569.99 ($369.99 sale at time of review)
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by BODEGA

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